Is what you buy driving social responsibility in IT manufacturing?

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Is what you buy driving social responsibility in IT manufacturing?

Social responsibility is a continuing challenge in electronics manufacturing. Working hours, health & safety and forced labor are examples of industry-wide problems that make computers and other electronics a high risk product category for purchasers.

The good news is that by specifying TCO Certified products, you are having a direct effect on social responsibility in IT manufacturing and our 2016 analysis shows significant factory improvements.

Criteria, verification and follow up systems in TCO Certified are designed to address social responsibility challenges and provide purchasers with more sustainable product options.

2013-2016 comparison shows improved compliance

As part of our post certification verification program, we studied progress at tier one sites manufacturing for 16 brand owners; Acer, AOC, ASUS, BenQ, Dell, EIZO, Fujitsu, Hanns.G, HP, iiyama, Lenovo, LG, NEC, Philips, TERRA and ViewSonic.

The findings are taken from our most recent report, Impacts and Insights, released in February 2017.

When compared with a 2013 analysis of the same facilities, the 2016 results show major improvements in factory compliance. In the case of several brand owners, they were able to eliminate nonconformities in several areas such as forced labor, discrimination and rights of the child.

Reduction in brand owner nonconformities 2013-2016

  • Zero in forced labor (from 11 in 2013)
  • Zero in discrimination (from 3 in 2013)
  • Zero in freedom of association (from 2 in 2013)
  • Zero in rights of the child (from 11 in 2013)
  • Two in health & safety (from 16 in 2013. These have since been corrected)
  • Fourteen in labor law ( from 16 in 2013)

These positive outcomes are a direct effect of purchaser demand for more sustainable products made under socially responsible conditions.

Labor laws – an industry-wide challenge

One observed challenge, that continues industry-wide, is labor law nonconformities, mostly in the form of excessive factory working hours and high percentages of temporary workers. Our 2016 study shows that, while 14 of 16 brand owners showed some level of nonconformity with labor law provisions, there was some measured improvement. In 2016, the number of nonconformities as the highest “priority” level was reduced to zero, and remaining violations were at either the less severe “major” or “minor” levels. This is an issue that will demand our continued attention.


Number of brands with nonconformities

How it works:

Placing social responsibility on brand owners rather than just factories

Brand owners, the companies behind the branded products that we purchase, are best positioned to drive improvements in factory working conditions. They have the most influence, opportunity and oversight of the supply chain and are widely regarded by purchasers and having this ultimate responsibility. To comply with TCO Certified, they are required to take full responsibility for factory working conditions, including code of conduct implementation and correction of nonconformities.

Criteria in TCO Certified reflect this broader responsibility, including a system of accountability and consequences if the brands don’t comply.

Our social responsibility criteria. A tool for change

The current generation of TCO Certified, launched in November 2015, increases brand owner responsibility for product and factory compliance with a code of conduct as well as the implementation of the code in the supply chain. The code of conduct must cover core ILO and UN conventions as well as labor laws in the country of manufacture. The intention is to improve the brand owner’s structured work to implement the code as well as to follow up their corrections of any nonconformities.

What is a Code of Conduct?

A code of conduct is a set of rules outlining the responsibilities of the brand owner and is an important tool for guiding brand owner work toward more socially responsible manufacturing.

A code of conduct can be an important step in establishing a system, but it is not a comprehensive solution on its own. Independent verification of compliance and follow up of corrective actions is critical, along with accountability and clear consequences for noncompliance.


When purchasers ask, industry listens

Here’s what you can do

  • Make sure your organization has a sustainable purchasing program that includes IT products
  • Make sure that your sustainability policies cover responsible purchasing of computers and other IT products
  • Let your IT vendors know that social and environmental responsibility are part of your purchasing specifications.
  • Specify that the IT products you buy are TCO Certified. You’ll cover a broad scope of sustainability criteria, and verification of compliance is included.

2017-03-23T14:07:31+00:00 22 March, 2017|Categories: News|Tags: , , |